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Why Go to Palm Springs

Palm Springs, centered in the Southern California desert, is far from being a dried-up destination. This city once lured the likes of heartthrob crooner Frank Sinatra and rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley. In fact, the King even took up residence here in the late 1960s, honeymooning with Priscilla and later having their daughter, Lisa Marie. In the '60s, glamorous piano bars and retro storefronts lined the vibrant streets of the desert town, which is beautifully bookended by the San Jacinto Mountains.

When Elvis and Sinatra left, the city lost some of its spirit. But today, Palm Springs is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. After all, its desert scenery and colorful sunsets are the same as they were 50 years ago. And its pools, spas and nightclubs are attracting a wide swath of travelers, from seniors to hipsters to LGBT couples. Plus, the surrounding Coachella Valley has blossomed with interesting things to do, from The Living Desert to the Coachella Valley Preserve. But if you want a true Palm Springs experience, you should take it easy, whether by the pool or in a trendy bar. In short, you won't regret a visit to this California city. If Palm Springs passed muster for the King and Ol' Blue Eyes, then it should be a great mix of fun and relaxation for everyday travelers as well.

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The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Palm Springs is ranked as:

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Palm Springs Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Palm Springs is between January and April when the weather is the most hospitable. Fall's temperatures are almost as nice, but unless you love the heat, we wouldn't recommend visiting in the summertime when daily highs regularly reach the triple digits.

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What You Need to Know

  • You're in the desert If you plan on hiking, bring a travel companion and plenty of water, and make sure to watch out for poisonous critters.
  • Summer brings closures Some restaurants and hotels shut down in July and August due to the incredible heat and lack of tourism.
  • See Joshua Tree Take advantage of Joshua Tree National Park, which is about 38 miles east of Palm Springs and a lovely way to spend a day.

How to Save Money in Palm Springs

  • Visit in July or August You'll sweat it out, but you'll save money on hotel rates and even restaurants this time of year.
  • Come during the week In the winter, many hotels and resorts boost their rates on the weekends, so plan the bulk of your visit between Monday and Thursday.
  • Check for deals For discounts on restaurants, accommodations and activities, visit the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism's deals page.

What to Eat

Palm Springs boasts a varied dining scene with options ranging from French to German to vegetarian; you'll find most of these establishments huddled together in the downtown area on North and South Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon drives. Cheeky's is a popular place for breakfast, but be prepared for a wait at this much-beloved restaurant. Casual lunches, meanwhile, are best enjoyed at affordable locales like Bill's Pizza Palm Springs and The Sandwich Spot. You can also pick up fresh, seasonal produce, meats and more at the Coachella Valley Certified Farmers' Market, which is hosted every Saturday at the Camelot Theatres parking lot (from October to May) or the Palm Springs Pavilion (between June and September). Once the sun sets, sit down for a fancy French meal at the top-rated Le Vallauris or dinner and a show at Michael Holmes' Purple Room. Note: Some restaurants close during the summer months, so call ahead for opening hours.

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Getting Around Palm Springs

The best way to get around Palm Springs is by car. Although you can walk most places downtown, you'll need your own wheels to explore the rest of the Coachella Valley. You can also take the bus to reach certain destinations throughout the city and beyond, or you can always hire a taxi. The easiest way to get from Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) – located 3 miles east of downtown Palm Springs – is to hop in a taxi or rent a car and drive. 

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